Page 4 of Bellini Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Zimbabwe » Bulawayo July 30th 2017

Prior to our trip, it was difficult to find timely information online about traveling in Zimbabwe, as of the summer of 2017. Once on the road, we had hoped to meet people in South Africa, Zambia, or Botswana who had been there recently, but we met no one. So, here's what we found from visiting: Tourism: There simply isn't much of it right now, likely because of all the difficulties explained below. We had initially planned to spend more time in Zim to check out Mana Pools and maybe some other destinations farther from major cities, but ended up settling for the two main cities: Bulawayo and Harare. In hindsight, we probably could have found buses or local shared taxis to these smaller destinations; then again, we even had to spend half a day looking for ... read more
World's View in Matopos
@The Bulawayo Club
Flower at Doon Craft Market

Africa » Botswana » North-East July 28th 2017

We crossed the border from Zambia at Kazungula, which was fairly straightforward but required a short ferry across the Zambezi. A bridge is in the process of being built but the projected finish date seemed a tad optimistic. We found a cab on the other side- 10 minutes to Kasane, where we based ourselves for visiting Chobe National Park. The town itself isn't terribly interesting, other than the warthogs roaming the streets, nibbling on ample trash. Be sure to exchange all Kwacha (Zambian money) at the border, since there is nowhere in Kasane to do it. We tried the banks and bureaus, but eventually I had to just ask around to find someone who knew a Zambian and exchanged with her at a terrible rate. We stayed at Plateau Guest House (pronounce it plat-oo or no ... read more
Fighting Elephants
Warhogs of Kasane

Africa » Zambia » Livingstone July 24th 2017

The flight from Johannesburg was quick and inexpensive. We met up with my friend John (see 2009 Quilotoa and Galápagos blogs) and his girlfriend Cristina and explored the falls area for a few days, fully aware that it is a very well beaten and expensive tourist track. Zambia and Zimbabwe now offer a dual visa for visiting both sides of the falls. Apparently you can go back and forth between the two repeatedly as long as you don't go to another country. Livingstone and Victoria Falls The town of Livingstone is surprisingly authentic, with plenty of shops and activity in town and then shanties and dirt roads surrounding, which I ran through and found to be safe and friendly, largely because most of the tourists seem to fly in and stay at extravagant camps in the ... read more
Jungle Junction / Bovu Island
Peggy and mist on Zambian side
@Boiling Pot

Africa July 15th 2017

The Amphitheater in Northern Drakensburg is a 5 km long 1,500+ meter escarpment shaped like a ( with Tugela Falls, the second-tallest waterfall in the world, cascading into the gorge below, and then dispersing into fertile grasslands where we stayed for 4 nights- at the aptly-named Amphitheater Backpackers Lodge, with panoramic views of the cliffs that extend for tens of kilometers north and south, making it impossible to climb to the top of the escarpment from the valley without driving around the cliffs for 2 hours on good roads. Amphitheater Hike The hostel runs a guided summit of the Amphitheater every other day. As I mentioned above, though we could see the area towering about 30k from the hostel, it takes about 2 hours to drive around the escarpment to a carpark at the base of ... read more
Climbing down the chain ladders
Backside of plateau
Shadows on Golden fields

Africa » South Africa July 12th 2017

To get to St. Lucia from Coffee Bay was a long haul, so we decided to take the Greyhound to Durban for a couple of nights first. All we really did in Durban was stuff ourselves full of Indian food and walk along the waterfront promenade, surprised by how diverse the people are. The Florida Road area was ideal. From the taxi rank in Durban, that an employee at Tekweni Hostel kindly drove us to, we first took a 2 1/2-hour shared taxi (a bit torturous since the driver blasted elevator jazz with the treble turned up high) to Mtubatuba, a commercial center and travel hub along the coast north of Durban. We were the only tourists wandering through an organized chaos of outdoor markets, big box stores, and taxi ranks. From there it was only ... read more
Hippo play
Big family

Africa » South Africa » Eastern Cape » Port St Johns July 1st 2017

We walked the 75 k-ish Wild Coast Trail over the first five days of July 2017, beginning at Amapondo Backpackers in Port St. Johns and ending at Sugarloaf backpackers in Coffee Bay. Peggy put it best - that if this walk was our only excursion in South Africa, we would leave satisfied with our trip. The scenery is spectacular and varied, the locals are friendly and accommodating, and every interaction is a cultural experience to an outsider. The weather is near perfect this time of year, with highs in the low 70sF and lows around 50, with clear skies and a low sun. The rolling terrain of the coastline has plenty of steep ups and downs, but none are sustained or overly technical for an average-ability hiker. Our experience was simply wonderful and we can't recommend ... read more
Gutting Shad
Night 2 crew
Peggy teaching yoga

Africa » South Africa » Gauteng » Johannesburg June 28th 2017

Basically, Johannesburg isn't nearly as bad as we'd expected based on stories from travelers as well as locals. It's hardly a destination, but it's fine to get stuck there for a few days in transit. We didn't walk around at night and we used Uber to get most everywhere. Melville When we arrived in South Africa, we stayed at 84th on 4th, a guest house in the bohemian suburb of Melville. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops to walk to. I went for a morning run in the area and had no problems, though the guest house staff said it wasn't safe for Peggy to walk alone around the nearby botanical gardens. Braamfontein On our way to Vic Falls, we stayed at Once in Jo-burg in this neighborhood close to the city center. There ... read more
Nelson Mandela's House
Trash burning

Europe » Sweden » Skåne » Malmö June 27th 2017

When you click on the Copenhagen option at the automated kiosk in the Malmö train station, it asks if you'd like to travel by ferry or by bridge, failing to clarify that the bridge option would involve a train, rather than a bus, shuttle, or who knows what else. But I guess this is obvious to anyone who lives nearby; it must have been a big deal when that connector was finished, as you can now travel between the cities in as little as 36 minutes. Commuters and Guns n Roses concert goers were fully taking advantage, making for the most jean jackets and suits I've ever seen in one place. There's nothing much to see in Malmö, but the town center is charming and the city parks are the best I've ever seen. Kungsparken is ... read more
A perfect day
Ducks and bubbling water
Park wetlands

Europe » Denmark » Region Hovedstaden » Copenhagen June 27th 2017

I stopped in Copenhagen on a series of hops from the States to South Africa, since flights were cheap. There's no shortage of pretty buildings and "sites," but I was secretly relieved when it started pouring after 20 minutes of the free walking tour, so I had an excuse to bow out without having to hear any more about various pieces of a chess board, or about the paths of the city's many fires. Since it's supposed to be one of the most livable places in the world, and home to the happiest people, I decided that my time and money would be better spent walking to different neighborhoods, eating and drinking at a long list of cafes. People also seem to spend quite a lot of time in the city's fairly expansive network of parks- ... read more
Mark Cuban's yacht
Dinner in Kogens Have
Bikes at the train station

Europe » Iceland » Southwest » Reykjavík June 23rd 2017

If your reason for choosing Iceland is low airfare, you're going to have to channel some dark comedy to endure the inescapable high costs of Reykjavik. Hostel bed in an 8-bunk dorm: $80. Fish and chips at a roadside stand: $17. A beer at a regular bar: $12. Deliciously free and limitless spring water only somewhat makes up for this. Other, non-cost oriented observations: The Vesturbaejalaug Baths are a wonderful alternative to The Blue Lagoon. There's not much ambience, but they're quite clean and offer hot and cold pools, plus a sauna, steam room, and small gym, all for $10. This is one of the best baths I've ever been to - on par with some in Costa Rica, Japan, and Hungary that I've visited. The restaurant Svarta Kaffið is ingenious. All they serve is one ... read more
Ship sculpture

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